Police search Riga Central Market, several people detained

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The Riga Central Market was searched on November 21 and several people were arrested, according to the State Police. LTV adds that the market’s Internal Security Department Director Maksims Danovskis was also searched. He was appointed to the board only a week earlier.

Not much is currently known about the criminal process, with a press conference due later this afternoon, but Police Representative Simona Gravīte responded to Latvian Radio writing that the law enforcement activity is related to illicit trafficking of excise goods. More than 80 searches were conducted and several people were detained.

The Rīga City Council, which is the sole owner of the company that runs the market, released information that the company management had not been arrested and are cooperating with law enforcement agencies and providing all necessary information. Board Chair Artis Druvinieks and Board Member Kaspars Zauls were present during the search procedures.

LTV has information that the searches may possibly be related to contraband cigarettes. It is common for anyone walking through the market to be offered cigarettes with no questions asked by men wandering the precincts around the fringes of the market.

The Riga Central Market informed the press that the leadership and employees have been informed that the procedural operations were carried out in relation to the illegal trafficking of excise goods. It was Press Secretary Aleksandrs Šuņins’ last day on the job and he confirmed to Latvian Radio that the police had been present.

“People in civilian clothes carried out procedural operations. There was a search. I don’t have the right to reveal what happened at my house, nor at my work. Yes, I was a witness, but I don’t work there anymore, I don’t have the right to comment,” said Šuņins.

"We are releasing information that the Riga Central Market Board participated in all procedural operations, cooperating with those conducting the searches. We would like to point out that the board members are not under suspicion and participated only as legal representatives," says the company.

Former Rīga City Council Vice Mayor Vadims Baraņņiks was suspended from his position on the Central Market board in the middle of November due to loss of confidence. The former vice mayor said at the time that there was evident mismanagement by the previous board and proposed an internal audit.The current temporary board has only three members, including Security Director Danovskis.

Four days later Rīga Mayor Oļegs Burovs reinstated the Riga Central Market board members suspended by Baraņņiks.

This isn’t the first time law enforcement has visited Riga Central Market offices. There are several criminal procedures in various stages against the former market leadership.

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